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Published: Saturday, 12/24/2011

Some bars, restaurants stay open late on Yule eve

Saturday night often busiest time of week


ST. LOUIS -- On a typical Saturday, customers of Blueberry Hill often line up at the bar two and three deep, shuffling behind the lucky few who manage to grab a bar stool. A chair is precious.

The St. Louis restaurant's owner hopes Saturday is no different.

For many bars and restaurants, Saturday nights are the busiest and most profitable of the week, often the key between success and closure. This year, though, Christmas Eve falls on a Saturday, so many restaurants and bars that typically would close for the holiday are staying open.

"You've got to," said Blueberry Hill bartender Luke Roulston, who will be one of three working behind the bar Saturday night.

Blueberry Hill typically closes at 5 p.m. Christmas Eve, but this year, the bar will stay open after midnight. It's one of many St. Louis-area restaurants and bars that plans to stay open to capture more business, despite the holiday.

"We're open, it's a weekend, it's showtime," said Tom Coghill, owner of a restaurant in south St. Louis. "If it was a Sunday, Monday, or Tuesday, I probably would've closed. But I can't blow off a Saturday night, things being the way they are. If it was better times, I probably would. But right now, you can't afford to."

"In general, more restaurants are staying open on holidays," said Hudson Riehle, the National Restaurant Association's senior vice president for research. "If you look at how restaurants have become much more essential to the American lifestyle, there are more operations open 365, 24-7. Even though Christmas is not one of the top nights, in the last five or 10 years, more operators are staying open to allow people to celebrate."

This year, Mr. Riehle said, the association expects even more restaurants will stay open, given the timing of the holidays.

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